Serial is coming to a TV near you with a new HBO documentary about Adnan Syed that is looking to pick up where that wildly popular 2014 podcast left off. The four-part documentary series, The Case Against Adnan Syed, will take a closer look at Syed's conviction for the 1999 murder of his ex-girlfriend Hae Min Lee, promising there is more to this story than people realize.
In the opening of the trailer for The Case Against Adnan Syed, premiering March 10, Rabia Chaudry, Syed's longtime advocate and lawyer, talks about what it's like to take on a case that she believes resulted in a wrongful conviction. "You're only on one side," Chaudry, who hosted the 2015 podcast, Undisclosed: The State vs. Adnan Syed and wrote 2016's Adnan's Story: The Search For Truth and Justice After Serial, says. "And that side is getting the truth."
In the past, Chaudry has critiqued Serial host Sarah Koenig's reporting, and the documentary, directed by Amy Berg, is relying on new information that wasn't featured in the podcast. This includes conversations with people who didn't take part in Serial, including Syed's family and those close to Lee, all of whom are still trying to process what happened 20 years ago.
"It felt like they gotta have the wrong guy," one former classmate says in the trailer. "If he did what he did, then who's the person I saw every day in class?" Another classmate notes, "This is an interesting case, but it's people's lives." That is to say as entertaining as someone may find this true crime story, there is a seriousness to this case that can't and shouldn't be overlooked by viewers.
In a press release, HBO revealed that the docuseries will present new information and evidence that will question the state’s 2000 case against Syed, in which he received a life sentence. Berg not only has new audio from Syed, but has spoken with Baltimore City law enforcement and investigators to try and examine what happened in the original trial.
As one investigator tells Chaudry in the trailer, "failure to investigate more thoroughly is a major mistake." But there are others in the trailer who question Syed's pleas of innocence. "How could anybody think that he's being straight about this?" a man asks.
In March, Syed was granted a new trial after the Maryland Court of Special Appeals ruled that his original lawyer Cristina Gutierrez had provided him with ineffective counsel, according to CBS News. The court ordered that he be tried again, but in July, Rolling Stone reported that Maryland's highest court agreed to hear the State’s appeal looking to reinstate Syed’s conviction, which was overturned in 2016. And in November, Maryland's Court of Appeals revisited Syed's case in a trial that will decide whether or not it will uphold his 2000 conviction, according to the Associated Press.
As of now, Syed is still in jail but it's possible that The Case Against Adnan Syed may help his case. After all, it was Serial that helped put new focus on the situation in the first place. Still, Chaudry isn't expecting miracles.
"Serial is what brought new evidence to the case," she explains in the HBO trailer. "But Serial is not going to exonerate him." It's unlikely that this documentary will be able to do that either, but those behind it are still hoping it will lead to more answers.